Lightning (9-10-1, 19 Points) at Bruins (13-2-2, 28 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
The Bolts and Bruins will skate in the second of three total meetings on the year. The clubs met nearly two weeks ago in Tampa Bay, where Boston claimed a 4-2 victory. The teams will conclude the season series finale on April 25 in Boston.
The Big Story: As of late, the teams have been headed in opposite directions in the standings. Tampa Bay has lost four of its last five, including three straight, while Boston comes in looking to extend a season-high five-game win streak. Funny thing is, regardless of each team’s recent performances, both are still within reach of first place in their respective divisions. The Lightning sit just two points out of the top spot in the Southeast behind both Carolina and Winnipeg, while the Bruins are currently just one point behind Montreal for the number-one spot in the Northeast.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay continues on its four-game road trip Saturday, taking on the Bruins at TD Garden with a pair of additional games away from home to follow. The trip did not start off as well as the team would have liked, as the Bolts fell to the New York Rangers Thursday night by a 4-1 score. Martin St. Louis scored the only goal for Tampa Bay, which despite being outshot 20-3 in the first period alone, went into the intermission down only 2-1 after Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan each added opening-period tallies for the Blueshirts. Although New York would tack on two more throughout the night, Mathieu Garon did all he could to keep the game close for the majority of the contest, as he turned aside 38 of 42 shots on the night, including 11 from Rangers forward Rick Nash alone. Paired with victories by division foes Carolina and Winnipeg, however, the loss dropped Tampa Bay out of a first-place tie in the division and into third.
BRUINS – Boston plays host to the Bolts for the first time this season as it competes in the middle game of a three-game homestand. The Bruins enter Saturday tied for the league’s second-longest active win streak at five games, behind only Chicago, which has won seven straight. After earning a pair of 4-1 victories, the Bruins’ most recent contest proved to be a bit closer, but they still managed to collect a victory anyway. Behind a game-winning goal by Patrice Bergeron in overtime, Boston dispatched the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in the extra frame, as it also got a goal from Nathan Horton. Tuukka Rask made 30 saves in the win, as Boston improved upon its best 17-game start since they accumulated 30 points in the 1929-30 season.
Lightning forward Steven Stamkos comes in riding an eight-game point streak with seven goals and 14 points in that span for Tampa Bay, while rookie Cory Conacher has points in all but one of his past seven games. For Boston, Patrice Bergeron has a pair of goals and seven points over his past five games and Tyler Seguin has points in five of his past six contests with a goal and six points in that span.
Lightning forward Benoit Pouliot recorded a career-high 32 points as a member of the Bruins last season, playing in 74 games with Boston. Nate Thompson was also drafted by Boston in the sixth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and skated in four games with the team during the 2006-07 season.
Twitter Stat Pack:
Steven Stamkos is tied for the league lead with Sidney Crosby for points with 31. Boston owns the NHL’s best penalty kill at 93.9 percent.
Tampa Bay has the league’s eighth-ranked power play at 21.2 percent.
The Lightning have had 18 different players score a goal this season, which is tied for third-most in the NHL behind only Detroit (19) and Philadelphia (21). Steven Stamkos ranks second among all NHL forwards in average ice time per game with 21:58.
“It's getting to a point where it's embarrassing. We talk about work ethic, but it's not there right now. Guys aren't making plays. There's enough talking going on. We need action.” – Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, on the team’s recent struggles
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